Senior beneficiaries can claim their daily hot meals from food stalls by scanning their distinct QR codes.
This ease in the side of the seniors is called Project Belanja!, a year-long pilot initiative by non-profit group Food from the Heart, in partnership with OCBC bank and mobile application Food Trust.
It started earlier this month, catering to 50 beneficiaries from the Evergreen Circle Senior Activity Centre in Tampines.
The seniors were issued with a card bearing a unique QR code to be used in claiming one hot meal a day from a choice of two stalls in a coffee shop nearby.
Stallholders use the Food Trust app on their smartphone to scan the QR cards and complete the meal redemption process. Food from the Heart reimbursed stall owners on a fortnightly basis.
As of now, there are only two stalls to choose from. This may be increased in the future depending on how the initiative goes for the whole year, as well as the number of beneficiaries.
Ms Sim Bee Hia, chief executive officer of Food from the Heart, said that the technology is novel in empowering beneficiaries to choose when and what they wish to eat, and encourages them to step out of their home to socialize.
Project Belanja! “overcomes some problems in current food distribution programmes, such as the elderly being unable to cook the distributed ingredients at home. Dried ingredients also tend to be less nutritious,” she added.
One of the beneficiaries of this project is 62-year old former security guard Mr Seng Thye Meng, a stroke survivor who became jobless for the past two years.
He has been reaping the convenience of claiming free meals every day since the start of the scheme. For him, this is “a blessing”, as he has been eating two meals a day since he became part of the beneficiaries.
In an interview with Today newspaper, he said, “Old fellows have a tendency to be more forgetful and might lose paper coupons. The (Food Trust QR) card is better because I can keep it with my other cards, like my bus pass, on a lanyard.”
The Food Trust app was developed pro-bono by business consultant Daniel Koh, and CCS Group, an app development company.
Using the app embedded with a live website, charities are able to track when and where beneficiaries are claiming their meals, and track financial reimbursements to stall vendors.
Mr Koh said, “such data would ensure transparency and also enable social workers to check that beneficiaries are eating their meals regularly.”
Inspired by the concept of Suspended Coffees, he is hoping to eventually work with more charities and social services organisations to enable more beneficiaries and stall vendors to use the app.
The concept of Suspended Coffees originated in Scotland where people pay for a cup of coffee that is later given to a person in need.
“The disruption that we see in other industries can extend to charities and social services groups, making them more efficient and productive,” he said.
Mr Koh also planned to use the app for making donations and fund such meals, as he believed “most Singaporeans don’t mind donating if they can do it conveniently and in small amounts.”
The partner bank, OCBC has pledged close to S$50,000 to fund meals under the project for a year and has committed to provide financial support to expand the programme if the pilot project proves to be successful.